DON’T WATCH the Oscars at home by your lonesome with a bowl of popcorn, make it an occasion. Put on your party hat and invite your friends. And while you’re at it, you could say, “black tie requested.” Why should Hollywood have all the fun of dressing up. No stylists required.
However, you’ve probably heard me rail before about matronly long gowns, made more so with frou-frou beading, ruffles—and trains (heaven forbid). Take an irreverent approach à la Sharon Stone at the awards ceremonies in 1996 and 1998. At the former she wore a black Gap turtleneck and long skirt, doubling down on this casual glam aesthetic two years later when she paired a lilac Vera Wang skirt with a white button-down shirt—also from the Gap.
Elaborate evening gowns may or may not be a relic of the past, but at New York Fashion Week, at least two designers showed their less serious side. Instead of his usual haute-sexy dresses cut way down low with slits up both sides, Tom Ford opted for filmy turtlenecks under ruby and shocking pink velvet blazers with jewel-tone satin pants. At Ralph Lauren’s runway show, a black sequined evening gown—okay it was long, but it was styled as a polo shirt—got a starring role. Equally fetching and black-tie wearable was a slightly cropped, close-fitting silk tennis sweater embellished with tiny sequins layered over the rib knit and striped trim, shown with a below-the knee accordion-style pleated skirt.
Black tie shouldn’t make you shudder. Heed our suggestions for more approachable ways to carry it off.
LEFT: Tadashi Shoji Lace Midi dress only looks as if it’s see through. No need to buy extra lingerie; it’s fully lined. $378, available in black or navy from Nordstrom. CENTER: This Jacki Sequin Skirt from Diane von Furstenberg merges two popular trends, alternating rows of sequins with fringe for a fun combination. Pair with a close-fitting turtleneck and party on. $498, DVF. RIGHT: The ruffled hem, balloon sleeves and a tie waist in satin must be resonating with buyers because there’s only one left of Stine Goya’s midnight blue Niki dress ($350) at Farfetch. See Net a Porter for more size selection.
LEFT: Western-influenced styling like the zig-zag paneling at the waist and a pointed collar dress down the shiny sequins of Ganni’s silver Sonora Midi Dress. The swingy skirt makes it perfect for swishing around and air-kissing your fellow revelers. $526, Matches. CENTER:When you need something out of the ordinary but don’t want to look too gussied up, go with this satin Aries skirt from Nanushka in an elegant midi silhouette with bow ties at the waist. Pair with an ivory silk blouse and it’s a wrap. $414, Farfetch. RIGHT: Pop this polka dot dress on, add sparkly sandals and clutch and you’ll feel pretty and in a party mood without a lot of fuss. Change the accessories for a downtown lunch date. Feel like you got a bargain. $69, Zara.
LEFT: Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance at the Grammys in a shimmering jumpsuit. Make an entrance of your own in Norma Kamali’s Rectangle stretch lame jumpsuit. Thanks, Norma, for the V-neckline, kimono sleeves and sash-defined waistline. $195, Net a Porter. CENTER: A very spendy Saloni Daphne silk jacquard maxi dress. But don’t you just love the color? Amortize the cost over the years. The style is classic. $955, Net a Porter. RIGHT: Take a casual Belted Satin Boilersuit, up the ante in a luxe satiny fabric and make it in trendy khaki green. A win-win for an Oscars party or brunch on Galentine’s Day. $99, &OtherStories.
LEFT: Massimo Dutti’s Leopard print dress stands apart from the crowded field of leopard because of its refreshing dark khaki green hue. Points for versatility, too. Dress it down with boots, up with jewelry and silvery sandals. $160, Massimo Dutti. CENTER: Gold and velvet usually spell a fancy-pants look, but Rachel Comey, known for her cool, downtown-girl styles, adds a lattice pattern for texture and covers up the neckline to tone down the glamour-girl gold. The Ruched Velvet Jacquard Midi Dress is $550 at Nordstrom. RIGHT: Swan into the party in Mango’s long and floaty Lurex Jacquard Dress. The semi-sheer sleeves and hemline tantalizingly let a little skin show through and the bits of lurex light it all up. $149.99, Mango.